Currently viewing the tag: "rogue landlord"

Hi all I read the following article in the Guardian this week and I thought I would share it with you as I happen to agree with the viewpoints stated by the author Heather Kennedy.

Please take a couple of minutes to read the following…. 

Is Shelter’s campaign against ‘rogue landlords’ helpful for private tenants?

Law-breaking landlords aren’t the sole blight on the private rented sector, despite Shelter’s eye-catching campaign

How do you feel if I say the words “energy performance certificate”? What about “London landlord accreditation scheme”? Is your pulse racing? I didn’t think so.

The dry and cumbersome language of the private rented housing sector is not exactly the stuff of captivating media headlines. For those of us trying to shout from the rooftops about how bad things are for private tenants right now, this can present a problem.

One organisation that has succeeded in capturing widespread attention is Shelter, with its simple and popular ‘evict rogue landlords’ campaign. The housing charity is encouraging residents to report dodgy landlords to their local authorities, who can take legal action if they are found to be operating outside the law.

The message has gained traction. Across the public debate on welfare and housing, the concept of the “rogue landlord” has caught on fast. It is central to our understanding of what is wrong with the private rented sector.

So if talk of ‘rogue landlords’ has helped to make the difficulties of life as a private tenant mainstream news, what’s the issue?

The problem is that Shelter’s concept seduces us into believing the deep-rooted problems in the private rented sector can be eradicated by punishing a small, malignant minority when in fact large-scale policy overhaul is now urgently needed.

There are plenty of fully legal landlords happy to bully their tenants, impose huge rent increases and end contracts on a whim.

Some renters and their landlords have come to consider this acceptable behaviour, so a rogue is always someone else: someone a friend of a friend told you about, or that one you saw on the telly. Never the landlord you have – or the one you are.

Of course unlawful evictions, harassment of tenants and illegal hazards need to be tackled. But I speak to private tenants across London every day and for most of them, current legislation offers them little or no protection against the problems they face.

For those landlords who are operating illegally, local councils have a feeble track record at prosecuting them, as Shelter points out. What Shelter doesn’t explain is how councils are supposed to find the time and resources to deal with the spiralling number of complaints from tenants, and at a time when funding for local authorities is being cut by central government.

Councils are already overwhelmed by the sheer volume of complaints they receive and can often only hope to provide basic dispute resolution between landlord and tenant.

For Shelter to suggest that we can prosecute our way out of this problem using current legislation is at best naive and at worst disingenuous.

The figure of the rogue landlord as a modern-day folk devil might be media-friendly, but it is meaningless for the majority of private tenants.

We need nuanced debate about the private rented sector, to reflect the diverse and complex experiences of tenants.

Shelter does some excellent work getting housing issues into the mainstream press, but right now its analysis is being allowed to dominate the debate.

Unlike council tenants, who have rich a tradition of self-organisation and representation, private tenants have no collective identity or voice.

This is partly why we’ve found it so difficult to challenge unfair treatment. It’s only now, as pressures on private tenants reach an apex that we’re beginning to speak as one and forge this collective voice.

Not until tenants are allowed to define their own campaigns and solutions will we begin to see the deep rooted change to the private rented sector we so desperately need.

Heather Kennedy is the founding member of Digs, a support and campaign group for private tenants in Hackney

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. Join the housing network for comment, analysis and best practice direct to you

Shelter want to see an end to the bad practices of rogue landlords

RLA say bad landlords are not "Rogues" they are "Criminals!"

The UK’s largest homeless charity Shelter and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have clashed over the issue of bad landlords.

Both organisations have been using very strong words over the last few days, whilst calling for more action by the UK government to stamp out bad landlords.

Shelter is calling on the UK coalition Government to hold a “Rogue’ Landlord” summit, but the wording has angered the Residential Landlords Association.

In particular, the RLA are incensed by Shelter’s use of the word ‘Rogue’, saying it belittles what is really ‘criminal’ activity. The RLA have also accused Shelter of using emotional clichés in their action plan, which could rebound and spell danger for tenants.

The heated exchange began after the homeless charity posted a question on its website asking if the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, is doing enough to evict rogue landlords?

Shelter also launched a ‘5 point’ action plan on its website, saying that the housing minister should stop talking about stamping out rogue landlords and start taking action.

Shelter says its 5 point plan is based on 86,000 complaints by tenants about landlords.

Below are the bullet points Shelter would like to see, with The RLA’s response below:

Tougher sentencing for criminal landlords: increasing the maximum penalty for ignoring a court order to improve conditions from £5,000 to £20,000.
The RLA prefers the word criminal to rogue which has Del-Boy overtones of sympathy. Penalties need to be proportionate to the crime but without better prosecution they are just window-dressing.
The RLA calls for better training and resourcing of enforcement officials in council housing department without charging the good landlords through spurious regulation.

A rogue landlord prosecution fund: earmarking money to help councils get tough on landlords blighting their area
The RLA says, throwing more money at the problem does not produce solutions. It is about priorities. The cost of successful cases can be recovered.

New protection for brave tenants: safeguard tenants from being evicted in retaliation for whistleblowing.
Shelter must not weaken landlords’ rights to evict non-paying or anti-social tenants. Speedy resolution of tenant problems is in everyone’s interests but neither Court procedures nor Council departments work in their favour. RLA says there is scope for fast track procedures such as Alternative Dispute Resolution as used in tenancy deposit schemes.

An online landlord conviction database: a new website listing all convicted landlords to help tenants avoid criminal landlords.
RLA says this is playing to the gallery with all the risks of “Trip Advisor” sites. There is need for tenants to be aware of poor quality property which can often be detected on inspection of the property before signing a tenancy agreement and to examine appropriate certificates for gas and electrical safety and energy performance.
Better landlords are members of associations and local accreditation schemes which set property and management standards. Some councils and university schemes include property inspections. Tenants have little knowledge of their responsibilities for example to reduce humidity and stop condensation.

A rogue landlord summit convened by the Housing Minister to create a clear action plan to protect tenants.
The RLA says landlords must also retain rights to defend themselves from tenants from hell – including cases of malicious damage, false allegations and anti-social behaviour.
But action to protect tenants must be proportionate to the problem. The vast majority of good landlords must be protected from the hassle-factor just to provide statistics which look as though action is being taken. More than 70 laws and regulations exist to control the PRS – they must be used better to protect tenants and good landlords from the criminal minority.

In a statement, the RLA said: “The problem is that local authorities have failed to focus on tracking down bad landlords because of seeking to meet central Government targets to license landlords. With limited resources, they put their effort into the easy-to-check landlords who are the most visible and compliant and do not concentrate instead on those who deliberately seek to evade inspection. That’s why councils brought only 270 prosecutions of landlords last year.”

Instead, the RLA said they would welcome dialogue to produce solutions but condemn spurious regulation that would hurt good landlords but not criminal ones. The idea of a rogue landlord prosecution fund would merely throw money at the problem without producing solutions. In cases where landlords are prosecuted the costs can be recovered.

While supporting safeguards for tenants against retaliatory evictions, the RLA said Shelter must not weaken the landlords’ right to evict non-paying or anti-social tenants. The speedy resolution of tenant problems is in everyone’s interests but neither Court procedures nor Council departments work in their favour. The RLA says there is scope for fast track procedures such as Alternative Dispute Resolution as used in tenancy deposit schemes.

The RLA are calling for constructive dialogue to produce solutions including:

1. A culture change in Town Halls to work with the Private Rented Sector, (PRS), as a responsible supplier of housing. The PRS provides housing for tenants evicted by social housing, yet gets little or no support when problems arise.
2. Wider use of landlord accreditation schemes to promote self-regulation allowing councils to focus on criminal landlords.
3. Fast-track dispute resolution – 135,000 re-possession cases come to the courts a year. The average time for repossession is over 4 months after the tenant has not paid rent for two months.
4. Fair-play for landlords: direct payment of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) through tenant choice. Over 7% of LHA rents (90,000 tenancies ) are not received by landlords within 8 weeks.

Don't become a rogue landlord

Don't cut corners when renting out property

The downturn in UK property valuations has lead many existing homeowners, some of whom are desperate to sell up, to consider alternative ways to cash in on their current property, without having to sell it below their expected valuations.

A fairly noticeable proportion of these vendors are choosing to become first-time landlords, rather than settling for a below market offer.

The prospect of more reluctant or accidental landlords entering the private rental sector (PRS) is not such welcome news for the UK rental property market. Ill advised or inexperienced landlords often make mistakes or cut corners in order to preserve cash flow or increase rental yield.

Any bad business practices can be perceived by some to be the actions of a rogue landlord, prompting Legal 4 Landlords to issue some general guidance advice for new, first-time and inexperienced landlords

All landlords need to comply with the current UK regulations and the following points are highlighted as essential:

• All prospective tenants should be thoroughly referenced and credit checked by a reputable agent, to ensure financial ability to pay the rent and gain an insight into the suitability and character of the tenant.
• Provide a proper Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST) signed by both Landlord and the tenant, outlining the length of the tenancy, amount of rent, date rent is due, and details of which government deposit protection scheme is to be used.
• At the start of the tenancy walk round with the tenant and conduct a detailed inventory describing the condition of all the fixtures and fittings of the property in detail, along with the furnishings.
• Gas appliances must be checked annually by a registered Gas Safe engineer and the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate (CP12).
• The landlord should take out comprehensive Buy-To-Let or Landlord insurance to protect their property asset.
• All repairs should be fixed promptly and only use reputable tradesmen that you know and trust to tend to the property, this is extremely important if emergency repairs must be done at short notice.
• If using a lettings or property management agent remember to conduct Due Diligence on them thoroughly and make sure as a landlord that you are happy with their terms and conditions before appointing them.

There are currently a record number of people searching for suitable rental properties in the UK, meaning that would-be landlords should have no problem finding a willing tenant, providing their properties are fit to rent.

New and first-time landlords should note that letting a property can be stressful and time consuming, as well as a very financially and personally rewarding experience, and is an effective way of providing an additional income.

Prospective landlords will need to remember they are effectively starting a business that centres on property and must remember to treat it as such.

Legal 4 Landlords are the UK’s fastest growing Tenant Eviction specialists who also offer a wide range of useful services for landlords including Tenant Referencing, Landlord and Tenant Insurance policies and Rent Guarantee insurance.

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